If you live in an apartment building, and have neighbors right on the other side of the wall or underneath you, there is a chance that they can maybe still hear the tapping of drum sticks on the pads of an electronic drum kit. But it’s not nearly as loud as an acoustic drum kit would be.
What Can Neighbors Actually Hear From An Electronic Drum Kit?
If you’re playing your drum kit over headphones, your neighbors certainly aren’t going to hear the sounds of the drum module. So that’s a good start. But there’s still the fact that you are hitting pads with drum sticks.
Think about what it sounds like when you are playing a practice pad. That’s about how loud most pads on electronic drum kits will be. You’ll hear some tapping sounds, but if you’re not playing overly loud there’s a chance you can keep the sound entirely hidden from neighbors.
However you also need to take the foot pedals and kick pads into consideration. Those sit on the floor, and you’re stomping on them with your feet. So there’s an additional potential sound factor there.
Can Neighbors Hear Your Electronic Drum Kit Through the Walls?
There is a chance that neighbors can hear you playing the pads on your electronic drum kit through the walls. If you have your kit positioned close to a wall that you share with your neighbors, the chances are much higher.
If there’s things that you can hear your neighbor doing through the walls, chances are they can hear you just about as well. So you can use that as a gauge.
As an example, I can hear one of my neighbors practicing piano from time to time. It’s not loud enough to bother me, but I notice it. I figure that is a good example of their experience from the other side when I’m playing an electronic drum kit in my place. They can probably hear a little of the tapping if I’m playing harder, but it’s probably not overly bothersome.
The most ideal situation is if you can place your kit in a spot where there are no shared walls with neighbors. Sometimes that’s possible in a two bedroom apartment where there is a centrally located room in the unit. Or you might have a room that shares walls with a hallway – the hall of an apartment building can be a sound buffer itself.
Can Neighbors Hear Your Electronic Drum Kit Through The Floor?
The floor is definitely more of a problem area for noise making than the walls, at least in most cases. This is largely because of the kick pedal, and to a lesser degree the hi-hat pedal.
Many kick drum pads have hard rubber surfaces that transfer vibrations right down into the floor. This means that every time you strike the kick pad with the pedal, it can sound like somebody stomping or tapping their foot on the floor. If you have ever had upstairs neighbors, you know how annoying that can be.
Even the rest of the pads on the kit can transfer vibrations down into the floor through the rack or the stands. So every time you hit a cymbal pad or the snare or toms – the neighbors downstairs could be hearing that too.
Carpeted floors will do a much better job of isolating the vibrations. Setting up your electronic drum kit in carpeted room is ideal if you have downstairs neighbors. If you live in a place with hardwood floors you will probably find them to be problematic. Hardwood floors in older apartment buildings are the worst – I’ve been there and done that, and wouldn’t recommend it.
Using rugs can help to reduce the vibrations, but they won’t solve the problems completely. There are other techniques such as building drum riser stands to isolate your drum rack and pedals from the floor. Roland makes noise isolation pads for pedals that help reduce vibrations into the floor, they are worth taking a look at. They also make something similar for the posts on drum racks.
If you have a problematic floor situation, you’re going to need to accept that some experimentation is in order. Or you can work around the issue by finding a time to play when your neighbors aren’t around.
Ideal Conditions To Keep You Neighbors From Hearing Your Electronic Drum Kit
After living in a few different apartment situations, there’s been some situations that worked way better for my electronic drums than others. Taking some of these into consideration before your next move could help you land a better situation for apartment drumming.
The best situation I ever had was a ground floor apartment with carpeted floors and a centrally located bedroom that didn’t share any walls with the neighbors. The noise isolation with the ceiling was pretty good since the unit above me was also carpeted. I put my drum kit in that bedroom and I found I could play drums at any time (with headphones) without bothering anybody. I would say that place checked all the boxes, so I’d recommend something like that if you want to set up electronic drums in an apartment.
The worst was an old industrial building that had been converted to apartments. All floors were hardwood and it was pretty easy to hear what neighbors were up to. I had a really hard time isolating noise with the floor and I ultimately had to just play during specific hours of the day when I knew the downstairs neighbors were gone.